New non-fiction decodables by Elizabeth Nonweiler

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Susan Godsland
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New non-fiction decodables by Elizabeth Nonweiler

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon May 18, 2015 10:52 am

There aren't too many non-fiction decodable books available so new additions are always welcome.

Elizabeth Nonweiler is the author of two sets of decodables. Each set consists of 12 books.

http://www.raintree.co.uk/product/9781474709323

They are also available from Amazon and Waterstones.

This online bookshop gives plenty of info. about the books including a couple of page spreads
http://spaldingbooks.tbpcontrol.co.uk/T ... n=11984659

Here's Elizabeth's own description
The concept the books are based on is probably unique. Each page has a caption that is likely to be unfamiliar to children and unlikely to be guessed by anyone, even if they can read English easily. For example, there is a picture in the 'Lunch' book with the caption, 'cod and chips', so if they guessed 'fish and chips' they would be wrong. Other examples from 'Lunch' are 'chakalaka' and 'tom yum goong'.

It is all non-fiction and the illustrations are photographs. The guidance at the front of the book is
1. Look at the picture.
2. Read the word.
3. Talk about it.
with more detail for each of those headings.

After 12 pages of photos with captions, there is a double page spread of 'Interesting Facts' about the words and pictures on each page, for the teachers and parents to read and talk about with the pupil.

After that, there is a page showing which letter-sound correspondences are included in the book. The books are meant for consolidation after all the correspondences in the captions have been taught and practised. If pupils cannot be expected to know how to pronounce a grapheme, when they have learned the common correspondences taught at the beginning of a good phonics programme, that grapheme is not included. The most obvious example is 'ow', so there are no words with 'ow'.

There are two levels with twelve books in each. The letter-sound correspondences that are included are linked to the sections of the Phonics Check, but that is not written in the books, to avoid limiting their use. The degree of complexity according to consonant blends and number of syllables has not been taken into account. However, they would be good for consolidation before the Check. One of the aims is to show that children do not need to practise reading nonsense words to succeed with the Check. They will get the necessary practice by reading words like those in these books.

Another aim of the books is to help teachers understand the Simple View of Reading, but without describing it. Pupils practise decoding words and then develop language comprehension through discussion.

On top of this, the hope is that pupils will be interested in the pictures and words and develop their knowledge and understanding of the world. Stereotypes about gender roles have been avoided and the words and photos come from a range of cultures and places across the world - as well as one book about Stars and Planets. Raintree has done a brilliant job of making them look attractive.

There is nothing baby-ish in the books and a couple of people who work in secondary schools have said they would be useful for secondary school pupils who need practice with phonics. Someone who is involved with teaching English as a foreign language said they would be useful there, for helping with pronunciation of words in written English.

moomintroll
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Re: New non-fiction decodables by Elizabeth Nonweiler

Post by moomintroll » Mon May 18, 2015 1:12 pm

Thanks for sharing that Susan - the books look great - so appealing! I have just bought some to show to teachers during training.:D

Elizabeth
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Re: New non-fiction decodables by Elizabeth Nonweiler

Post by Elizabeth » Mon May 18, 2015 6:00 pm

I've reread what I wrote to Susan and noticed a mistake!

I wrote:
Each page has a caption that is likely to be unfamiliar to children and unlikely to be guessed by anyone, even if they can read English easily.
I should have written:

Each page has a caption that is likely to be unfamiliar to children. Most of the captions cannot be read by guessing, even when the reader has an excellent vocabulary.
Elizabeth

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Re: New non-fiction decodables by Elizabeth Nonweiler

Post by john walker » Tue May 19, 2015 7:12 pm

Firstly, well done to Elizabeth for producing these decodable, informational texts. :grin: I've been arguing for years for the inclusion of more informational texts in children's reading. I normally have to wait until pupils are halfway through the Extended Code before introducing my favourite Kingfisher First Encyclopaedia, which offers text in short, bite-size chunks. This really adds 'reading muscle', but it would be so much better if pupils got to grips with these kinds of texts much earlier.
One question though: is there an incremental sound-spelling sequence to the books, and if so, could you tell us what it is please, Elizabeth? I see what you've said about the phonics check but I'd just like a little more information about the structure of the words (CVC, CVCC, etc.) in the books and the detail of which specific sound-spellings are practised.
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

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Re: New non-fiction decodables by Elizabeth Nonweiler

Post by Elizabeth » Thu May 21, 2015 3:08 pm

The books are meant for consolidation after all the correspondences in them have been taught. They are not meant to follow the progression of any one programme. They are divided into two levels. Level 1 correspondences nearly match the correspondences in Section 1 of the Phonics Check and Level 2 correspondences nearly match those in Section 2. There is no incremental sequence beyond the division into two levels

There are a few details that are different. I did not include ‘oi’ in Level 1, because I do not think it should be in Section 1 of the Phonics Check either. All the other correspondences in Section 1 are likely to have been taught in the first six months, but some programmes teach ‘oi’ before ‘oy’ and some the other way round. I know that some linguistic phonics programmes teach a range of alternative spellings for some sounds from the start, but I think I have made the books suitable for all the different programmes based on synthetic phonics or linguistic phonics principles.

I had to be careful about alternative pronunciations, because many of the words are likely to be unfamiliar to children and so they could not be expected to pronounce them correctly unless the pronunciation was what they would expect according to what they had been taught. Of course, the same is true for the Phonics Check. Even where they allow alternative pronunciations for graphemes in the nonsense words, they do not allow for unusual pronunciations that are found in a few real words.

I did not include words with ‘ow’, because some programmes teach ‘ow’ as in ‘low’ first and some as in ‘now’. I did not include ‘y’ as in ‘my’ or ‘baby’, ‘c’ as in ‘city’, ‘g’ as in ‘age’, ‘ch’ as in ‘chef’ or ‘school’, ‘ie’ as in ‘field’, ‘ou’ as in ‘you’, ‘a’ as in ‘acorn’, ‘o’ as in ‘go’, ‘e’ as in ‘me’, ‘i’ as in ‘kind’ or ‘u’ as in ‘uniform’, as I do not think any of the programmes (as above) teach them before the pronunciations I used.

I decided that it would be good enough if a pupil got the pronunciation of ‘th’, ‘ue’, ‘ew’, ‘u-e’ or ‘oo’ slightly wrong (‘this’, ‘thin’, ‘cue’, ‘clue’, ‘few’, ‘flew’, ‘look’, ‘moon’) and I have not included any words where this would be a problem.

There is a page at the back with a word for each grapheme in the book, showing how the grapheme is pronounced in the book.

Some of the words come from foreign languages with different phonemes from English, but I chose only those that are used in English and where the English spelling gives a good approximation to the foreign pronunciation. For example the vowel in ‘thawb’ is something between /o/ and /aw/.

I did not take the structure of the words into account at all. I considered it briefly, but it would have limited the words I used too much. As the books are meant for consolidation and not for week by week progression, I decided it would be a good challenge for pupils to try to read the longer ones and those with more consonants to blend.
Elizabeth

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